Paul Doswell sets sights on maximum points from Hemel Hempstead, Slough Town and Wealdstone tests in 'cup final week'

Paul Doswell admits it feels a bit like ‘cup final week’ as the Hawks face three massive National League South games in the next eight days.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 3:30 pm
Hawks boss Paul Doswell. Picture: Dave Haines/Portsmouth News

The ‘massive’ week starts with a tricky trip to Hemel Hempstead, who are tough opponents on their own ground.

On Wednesday night, the Hawks host their grudge match against Slough Town and faltering leaders Wealdstone visit Westleigh Park next Saturday.

Doswell admits it is a testing schedule.

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‘While it isn't season-defining, if we can get through these games with three wins it will put us into a great position,’ he said.

‘I know that is being greedy but we have to aim the bar high and see where it takes us.

‘Hemel are a very competitive outfit on their own ground.

‘Their squad is very experienced and they have already beaten us once this season.

‘In that game we led until late on but made bad mistakes at the end and they punished us.

‘We don't want to be beaten twice in a season by any team in our league.

‘They have a large band of vocal fans getting behind them.

‘Our fans have been great with up to 150 travelling to away games and getting behind the players.

‘They have made a real difference and it gives the players a tremendous boost.

‘Sometimes the importance of that support can be underestimated.’

The Hawks will travel with confidence, defending one of only two unbeaten away league records in the top six tiers of English football - Liverpool possess the other one.

They have won seven and drawn three of their games on the road.

Doswell accepts it will be a tough ask keeping that record intact.

He will also want his side getting back to winning ways following the disappointing 2-1 home defeat to Maidstone United.

The Hawks were able to give a few players a run out in midweek in the Hampshire Senior Cup win at Gosport Borough.

‘As much as I derided the competition, in the end it served a useful purpose,’ said Doswell.

‘It enabled six players to get some needed game time in a competitive affair.

‘Also, Alfie Rutherford and Jonah Ayunga got back on the scoresheet which was something they needed to do after the league game.

‘In the end, I had to field the team I did because we didn't have enough other players.’

Wes Fogden, Simon Walton, Andy Drury, Dean Beckwith and Danny Kedwell were all rested at Privett Park, but all should return tomorrow.

Defender Craig Robson is likely to be missing for a few more weeks with medial ligament damage.

Long-term absentee Roarie Deacon returned to training this week.

The return of Slough to Westleigh Park on Wednesday is eagerly anticipated.

It still rankles with Doswell more than two months later about the first game being abandoned in early November after 70 minutes when the Hawks held a 2-0 lead.